Howdy all. I know I’ve talked about cities I didn’t particularly take a shine too, and I’m going to do this again today, but I want to look at why exactly. Some of these I don’t outright hate, in fact I’m more than happy to return to most of them if I need to (exception – Delhi, but odds are I will have to pass through one day again in my life if not more), but some places don’t necessarily grab you, whereas others make you feel uncomfortable or have little to recommend them. Anyways, have a read and if you’ve been to any on this list, let me know how you felt about them.
So I’ll start here at the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh which I don’t think I’ve ever written much about before, if anything at all. After spending a day on the roof of a boat as the best and most relaxing way to get to PP from Siem Repp, the city was a bit disappointing. I certainly hadn’t expected anything amazing before arrival, and I’m not sure that I felt there was a lot to see. You can see the Killing Fields, there’s a nice market and the palace on the river, and you know, one of those things is something of a fairly morose ‘tourist attraction’ I guess which doesn’t necessarily leave you feeling too positive, but I just remember feeling there was something decidedly unpleasant about the place.
It’s hot (of course) and noisy and there is a lot of street-based pollution, but it also felt quite seedy too. I went to a club with the three girls I was travelling, they had it recommended to them, they were from Switzerland, France and the UK. And it was… dark, full of drugs and prostitution, and of course, foreigners. And I’m not here to judge anyone, but it seemed we were advised to go there and considering who our group of four was, was this one of the ‘cleaner’ (for lack of a better word) places in the city?
I also accidently took my room key with me and had to run it back to hotel which pissed my group off when we were leaving, which is basically my final memory of Phnom Penh. And look, twenty years ago nearly and I’d give it another chance. I just don’t remember anything that I particularly like, although I am glad I went to the Killing Fields as they are significant.
So yeah, I don’t care that much for Bangkok. Look, Thailand was my first backpacking country, and I certainly don’t hate Bangkok and happy to visit again, but I wouldn’t ever choose to go spend some time specifically in Bangkok other than a few days. The heat there is stifling, I remember in 2000 when I was there this amazing thirty minutes between 1030am and 11am when it seemed like the wind changed and it ushered in a cool breeze. Still the only cool breeze I can remember feeling in Bangkok.
It’s a tourist Mecca, and Thailand has been so for decades. This means so much of Bangkok makes money from the visitor, that it just doesn’t feel real. You walk around Khao San Road and all you see is white people. It’s created so many bars and cafes offering exactly the same thing. At the same time it was nice in 1999 to start off there, it was easy to meet travellers and find out what it’s all about with no backpacking experiences, but it’s hard to get a real feel for what the Thai people in Bangkok feel – the ones that don’t deal with tourists every day.
It’s big and it’s bad and there are scams to be aware of too. I fell for one on my second day – got on some ridiculously cheap Tuk-Tuk tour and in the end found myself in a tailor refusing to buy a suit. But I wasn’t out of pocket so it was no biggy. Plenty of other scams around and negotiating with tuk-tuks and taxis there, it’s frustrating and unnecessary.
I have never been to certain parts of the city or nearby – ie. Patpong and probably never will now. As a younger guy, I might have found it amusing but probably not!
Ummm yeah. If you follow my blog, well, you’ll know just how I feel about this one. It’s the pits. I went there two years now, my third visit to Delhi, and I still didn’t like it. I’ve been scammed, experienced Delhi Belly to the point I was hospitalised for a week, endured and earthquake, been in an auto-rickshaw when it was hit by a car, it’s polluted, hot, dusty…
Look. Okay. I admit it, Delhi isn’t ALL BAD. And when you’re anywhere near it in India as part of travelling, odds are you’ll have to pass through it at some point. Some locals are trying you on, and some are actually really nice, and there is *something* about the city. It has a bunch of ancient stuff to see from Qutab Minar to the Red Fort, and the place is many things, but it WORKS. Heck, it even has a pretty good above and below ground metro system. But even 2 years ago I got a feeling of dread entering Delhi, and soon found myself stuck in a traffic jam at 1030pm at NIGHT. In an auto-rickshaw. Again, you find yourself bargaining hard when all you want is a ride to your hotel so you can rest for a bit. It’s not as difficult as Bangkok to bargain, but still.
One thing I am pretty sure of, I will almost certainly end up here again. There’s something inevitable about it. It’s India’s Rome – all roads lead to it!
So how about you? Are there any cities that you’re just not a fan of? Please do comment below – and May the Journey Never End!